A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Sunday, 4 March 2012

What if.....?

Sir David Baird? - nah...

My previous post gives the details on a fairly substantial defeat for the Allied army in the Peninsula in my solo campaign, and Ross's appended comment to that post raises the question of comeback - poor old Arthur Wellesley, for all his changing titles and honours, lived constantly under the threat of being replaced if things went against him, or even if Parliament took a dislike to the manner in which they went in his favour.

I reproduce here a couple of relevant pages of the British Army List for January 1812. In all innocence, I ask the question - because I really have no idea - if Wellington had been pulled from the Peninsular in 1812 (or any time, really), who would have replaced him?

Most of his peers in the Army were geriatric and/or useless, his subordinates in Spain were maybe not the required material, either by talent or by seniority or by influence. Any suggestions? If Wellesley had been removed, who, of the available people, would have been

(1) a likely replacement, or

(2) a good replacement?

Just a bit of fun. I can't get past the David Bairds and the Dalrymples and the other aged good chaps, but there must have been someone. Graham was a good subordinate, but I'm not sure he could have handled the top job, and in any case his health was uncertain. Hill was healthier, but maybe typecast in the same way. Beresford was hated by most of the British General Staff (for whatever reason), and was basically an administrator. Cotton was strictly Wellington's second in command around this time, but he would have made an awkward supremo...

Any ideas? I was going to run a poll, but I thought that listing candidates would distort the results, and anyway I don't know how to do it! Here's the pages from the Army List for top guys in Jan 1812...


  1. Banestre Tarleton - definitely - no question. Maybe a few years past his prime, but just the kind of hell-raising Tory wild man to sort out these foreign chaps, and maybe teach the guerrillas a thing or two about torture. None of your namby-pamby diplomacy rubbish....

    Cheers - Lou

    1. I confess I didn't see that one coming. I think he had retired to concentrate on his drinking by this date.

  2. Sharpe of course. He was always acting up.

    1. Good shout! Sharpe could also be relied on to keep the ladies smiling (though Arthur was quite a fellow in this department too, I understand). There is also a fine dividing line between "acting-up" and "overacting"!

  3. My vote would be for Sir Eyre Coote, nephew of the famous & Successful HEIC General whose Irish title he eventually inherited, veteran of the AWI, freshly back from the Walcheren Expedition, ex Governor of Jamaica, ex Memmber for an Irish seat and fairly senior in the list. Money, connections, later exposed as a pervert, accustomed to miitary defeat, no danger to anyone but the army, what better qualifications could he have?

  4. I forgot to add a 2nd choice, that of dragging Sir John Stuart, Count of Maida (I didn't know the Scots had Counts) out of retirement. But he had kind of a winning record so possibly not.

  5. I think Beresford was his deputy in 1812, so you'd have the likelihood of another Albuera happening sooner rather than later.....


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